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How Retinoids Work for Acne?

a woman using retinol serum

What Is Retinoid?

A group of compounds that can be derived from vitamin A is called retinoids which possess some functional and structural similarities with vitamin A.

It can sensitive in either synthetic or natural form and exist in various forms such as retinal, retinol, and retinyl esters.

In many cosmeceutical and dermatological medications, it acts as a common active ingredient that has proved very effective in making your skin youthful, healthy, and glowy. 

What is Retinol?

The natural derivative of vitamin A that is a common and effective ingredient in many anti-aging creams is known as retinol. Retinol found its existence in many cosmetic products claims as an acne reduction and also in making acne less visible.

Retinol in Treating Acne

Retinol works in many ways to treat acne most effectively. The outermost layer called the epidermis is exfoliated to get away with the dead skin cells, remove dirt from the skin pores and finally wash them with any accumulated oil and make them again breathable. All these refreshments that are made to the skin pore to make them lively again can barrier it against the pimples.

Retinoid works effectively by forming a layer under the skin creating a  barrier against anything that can harm it in any way. This retinol plays a very important role by stimulating the production of elastin and collagen that work the best for skin health.

So both retinoids and retinol play a very important role in supporting your skin health in fighting acne scaring and making your skin pores less visible in appearance.

Difference Between Retinol And Retinoids

Both of the compounds retinoids and retinol are similar in their chemical composition and are also used to treat the same skin disorders. Also, there are some key differences.

Retinol is a kind of retinoid. Some common retinoids are 

  • Tretinoin
  • Adapalene
  • Isotretinoin
  • Retinyl acetate
  • Retinoid esters

Retinol is much stronger than retinoid esters, is a moderate strength retinoid. As known that retinoid is of weaker strength than tretinoin while stronger than retinoid esters.

It is factually proved that though the time taken by retinol to display its result might belong or not an as fast ad by the prescription-strength product but the side effects caused by retinol are quite less like it can cause some irritation on the skin not more than that. Retinol is also very easily available which makes it a good option to opt for it.


Many benefits of using retinoids are:

  • Can reduce inflammation
  • Stimulate the production of procollagen
  • Reduce the blocked pores.
  • Helps in regulating the growth of the cells on the skin.
  • Resist the growth of cystic acne.
  • Helps in anti-aging
  • Shield against UV rays.

What Should Be Its Dosage For Treating Acne?

Most of the OTC retinol gels, creams, and serums contain approximately between 0.25% and 1.5 %retinol. The strength of retinol is depended upon the type of skin. For sensitive skin, you must be taking a lower dose to be on the safe side. If there are no side effects noticed then you can easily increase the strength and doses.

Also, you should keep in mind that there are many anti-aging products having retinol in them but can not be used for treating acne.

Retinol becomes more effective when it is applied during the night. The reason is that when retinol is applied in the morning it makes your skin so sensitive to the sun. So whenever you step out in the sun make sure you have a thick layer of trusted sunscreen on your skin.

Also, retinol is never be used on daily basis, so you should avoid using it regularly for treating your acne symptoms. Just 2-3 times per week is more than enough for your skin.

Let Us See Some Of Its Side Effects

Some of the known side effects of retinoids are 

  • Irritation
  • Dryness
  • Peeling
  • Blemishes
  • Acne breakout 
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity from the sun
  • Stinging 

Many of these side effects are most visible when you first start using retinol. Over time these side effects subsidies on their own. If even with time these side effects do not start fading away then you should switch to a lower strength of it. Some other side effects are

  • It might trigger redness and rashes of the skin.
  • Avoid pregnancy.
  • Do not overuse it.
  • Long-term use of retinoids can increase the risk of cancer.

Can retinoid help with other skin issues?

In addition, when retinoids help in reducing blemishes, acne breakout, there are several other conditions in which taking retinol in suitable strength can help you in multiple ways:

  • Sun damage
  • Fine lines
  • Wrinkles
  • Bkemkshes
  • Melasma
  • Acne vulgaris 
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Dull skin tone
  • Oily skin
  • Large skin pores

So to notice the positive change that is made out by the effects of consuming retinol is a long race to be on. It requires patience and regularity in seeing the positive change of retinoids. Like it can take approximately two to three months to notice the change.

Take Away

Retinoids have much important use right from its use in various cosmetic products to treat wrinkles, rashes, and other signs of aging to make your skin youthful, glowy, and healthy again. Many dermatologists find its use and even frequently prescribe it to skin patients like in the case of psoriasis.

Retinoids offer many benefits to the skin disorders like skin redness, irritation, and skin rashes. Also, retinoids have some side effects too like skin irritation. But studies also suggest that these side effects are mostly shown in cases where retinoids are used in higher doses than recommended.

Make sure you always read the label before taking retinoid-containing medicines. Also, don't take these medicines in higher doses than prescribed by the doctors. If there are severe symptoms you are experiencing for more than a week then you should immediately seek some professional help to get away with the side effects.